Worst Flight Ever
By Nojh Livic
“Let’s see… Is this seventeen A?” the man asked. Robin looked up at the newly entered passenger, then around him to the only other aisle on the absurdly small airplane. The other two seats that comprised half of the airplane’s passenger capacity were actually filled not with passengers but cargo. One was a box that was buzzing too much for Robin’s comfort but was at least belted into the seat. In the other seat sat a bushel of broccoli strapped together. It was not belted to the seat, which for some reason made Robin more nervous than the buzzing box.
This meant there was only one seat left on the tiny plane. She had questioned the flight attendant regarding the odd number assignment of the single row but had somehow been unable to communicate how bizarre it was to name it seventeen when there was only one aisle to the woman. Robin did not have high hopes for the food service of the flight.
She looked over the new passenger. He was tall, bearded, and had a backpack in hand. Dressed casually in a way that made Robin ever so slightly envious. Flying for business never let her dress comfortably although her short stature did make the average seat size less of an inconvenience.
Several seconds past before she realized he was still looking at her expectantly. She blinked in confusion, having thought his question rhetorical. “Uh. Yeah. Right here.” she said, motioning to the seat beside her next to the window. The only seat available.
“Thank you!” the man said with a little too much cheer. This was going to be a long flight.
“And thank… again for fly… airlines,” the speaker coughed, managed only a few understandable words between bursts of static. She didn’t understand why the flight crew just didn’t open the door between them and speak back. The front half of the plane couldn’t be that far away.
The bushel of broccoli had not fallen out of the seat during take off, much to Robin’s surprise. She had kept an eye on it during the rather shaky ride. It had rolled around in the seat a bit and even jumped when the aircraft dropped suddenly during the initial ascent, but landed back on the seat. The buzzing box took the ascent far less calmly, becoming louder with each jostle and bump, but also remain firmly belted to the seat. Robin found herself unconsciously leaning away from the box every time it jumped.
It took breathing exercises to relax her after the plane finally leveled off.
“Don’t you just love flying?” the man said, suddenly. Robin glanced at him this time to make sure he wasn’t expecting an answer but his attention was focused out the tiny port hole-like window. She chose not to respond but instead leaned forward to reach under her seat for her carry on bag. In it she had her novel and an audio player. She wasn’t much of a conversationalist.
“Whoa you snuck on some cargo?” the man asked in a hush whisper as she pulled out her audio player. She tensed and looked towards the man, wide-eyed. She wasn’t aware she had done anything wrong. The flight attendant had watched her carry her luggage on. The man pointed at her audio player. She frowned slightly.
“No. This is just my audio player?” Robin asked very slowly.
“Don’t worry. I wont tell the airline,” the man said, giving Robin a conspiratorial wink before looking back out the window. She saw him pull out his phone however and began typing away on it. She held back a sigh and plugged the ear buds into her ears and closing her eyes.
The batteries on her audio player ran out sometime after the flight attendant came by to take drinks but before the man beside her began to snore loudly. This meant that she had about half a cup of water to splash in his face in order to wake him up and she was considering it for what was likely the hundredth time. The rational part of her mind kept explaining that he would likely be even more irate to be woken in such a manner, or that waking him at all would constitute some kind of conversation. She was better just trying to block it out.
However all her willpower was focused on blocking out the buzzing sound from the seat just two feet to her right and just didn’t have the power to spare for the loud man next to her. This wasn’t, by far, the worse occasion of an annoying seat neighbor on a plane. That particular occasion involved drool, but this was getting close.
The fasten seatbelt sign came on, which wasn’t a bother for her as she hadn’t unbuckled her seatbelt nor had her neighbor. Strangely she found herself side glancing at the bushel of broccoli. The broccoli did not seem to notice but it did not have a seatbelt on either. She had almost convinced herself she could possibly switch seats with it when the aircraft began to shake and bounced.
This, of course, spilled the remaining cup of water into her lap and all over her skirt. She took big deep breaths, reminding herself that her clothes would likely be dry before the flight ever landed. Which reminded her how long the flight was and how much longer she was trapped.
Breathing exercises and her happy place were needed to calm down this time.
“We’re gain… tude, which should allev… of the turbul…” the speaker coughed discouragingly. The plane had been bouncing for what seemed like forever. The turbulence made reading her book impossible. Robin’s skirt still wasn’t dry. Her neighbor was still snoring. The box was still buzzing. And the broccoli was still in its seat!
Robin was beginning to doubt her sanity.
Either way she had decided this was now the worse flight she had ever been on, drool or not. That way when the seatbelt holding the buzzing box came unbuckled after a particularly stomach wrenching bounce, her opinion was not modified in the least.
Her blood pressure, on the other hand, shot through the roof. The box fell out of its seat and wedged itself between the wall of the cabin and the seat. It only took another bounce to dislodge that and have it fall into the aisle next to hear. The buzzing sound was furious. Robin pulled her carry on onto her lap, to put something between her and the box. The aircraft bounced again and this time Robin heard a cracking sound, and saw the crack beginning to form on the outside of the box.
Quickly she reached up to press the call attendant button. A light came on for a brief second, then flickered off, much to Robin’s dismay. She pressed the light again. Again the light flickered on, and then off. She tried again. And again. That is when Robin felt something lightly touch her leg. Robin screamed and slapped at her leg. A bug fell away from her thigh, some of its guts still smeared on her hose.
That only seemed to make the rest of them angry.
“Isn’t this exciting?” the man yelled as Robin brandished a head of broccoli at the swarm while he stomped on the bugs brave enough to advance. She gritted her teeth.
Robin was huddled under a blanket next to the door. The combination of broccoli and blanket seemed to be keeping the swarm at bay. She had no idea the fate of her companion.
Pounding on the door to the front of the plane was fruitless. She tried tapping out S.O.S. on the door. No response.
She had tried calling out to the man but that had increased the buzzing noise outside the blanket, so she remained silent. She feared everything was lost.
The flight attendant opened the door as the aircraft as stopped at the gate. She put on her polite smile. “We thank you for using our airlines and behalf of the crew of this flight welcome you to your destination,” she said with rehearsed cheeriness, even as her eyes grew slightly wider.
Robin stood in the aisle, her carry-on on her shoulder. She held a single stalk of broccoli in one hand, and one of her heels in the other, point forward. Her jacket was tied around her waist and the front of her skirt was still stained dark. The rest of her looked rumpled, like she had just tumbled out of the dryer. Her hair was a mess, her blouse wrinkled, her hose torn, and even some of her makeup was smeared.
The cabin was worse. Dead bugs covered nearly every surface. Some were squished. Some were smashed. Some just seemed to have curled up and died. None seemed alive. Littered across the aisle and seats were small pieces of broccoli, as if the broccoli had decided to spontaneously combust. Laying across both seats was another passenger, a blanket covering their face and chest. They weren’t moving.
Robin was panting. Her attention was directly on the flight attendant. Despite her wild appearance, her lips were tight and her eyes dark and focused. She stalked towards the younger woman and stopped in the door frame. There she placed the heel she held on the floor and carefully stepped into it, holding onto the door frame.
“You’re not welcome.” she said, and stalked off the plane.